I found myself drawn, as I am from time to time, to revisit the letters I wrote my parents while I was in the Navy so very long ago (1954-1956). I guess I like to check to see what the oh, so very young me was doing on a particular day a lifetime ago. This one is about as typical as they come. Nothing exciting, just an echoed report of a real life lived moment to moment in then-real time by a very real but very different me. I hope you might enjoy stepping back in time with me.
24 April 1956
I’m starting tonite’s letter early, so that what it may lack in quality it may partially atone for in quantity. Of course, like I said last night, if I insist on writing so small, no matter how much I write it won’t look like much.
Slept like a log last night, and hated to get up, as usual. Today was a second-class dayâcloudy but not really too bad. Oh, I forgot to mention in passing the last few daysâSaturday while we were out strolling along the flight deck, we sat down on the edge where the catwalk had been torn away by the storm. When we looked down at the water, I couldn’t believe it at firstâthere were literally thousands of jellyfishâso light and transparent they could hardly be seen, floating just below the surface. They were completely surrounding the ship; whether we attracted them or they’re like that all over, I don’t know. They were almost a solid mass, just lying there, wafting slowly back and forth with the motion of the waves.
We’ve had more mail calls in the past week than in the preceding two weeks. Got a letter from you today, mailed on the 19th, which isn’t bad, all things considered.
Oh, about that Fantasia record again, motherâI know it has Swan Lake on itâit has all his great works, and I think it is beautiful. Please get it and I’ll pay you for it.
I have a box for your binoculars, dad, and will send them on in a few days. I think I’ll also put in several rolls of film with it; you may look at it once, if you like.
Tell me, motherâdo you want me to pick up any silks or brocades if I get a chance in Istanbul/Ismir (whichever one)? I can get just plain clothâroll or bale or whatever you call itâby the yard. I still kick myself for not having gotten any in Beirut. It was $9 a meter (39”), but would be about $15 or $20 in the States. I won’t pass up a chance like that again, if you’d like some. Oh, well….
Athens is supposed to have some good buys, too. If there is anything you want in the way of practically anything, let me know and I’ll try to pick it up. After all, my Mediterranean Cruise is just about over.
Here are some “advised buys” in Athens: “dolls in regional costumes, ceramics, ash trays, vases, plates, etc.; hand made silver and silver plated jewelry, mirrors, desk sets, etc., hand embroidery and hand woven covers for tables and luncheon sets, bags, blouses, and children’s clothes; hand woven silk and cotton by the yard; hand woven mufflers and scarves, men’s ties,…..” If you want me to pick up any of this stuff, either for you or for Xmas presents for the relatives, let me know. I have, or will have next payday, about $200 on the books, so you needn’t worry about my having enough money.
Don’t count too heavily on my getting out earlyâthe other day I did what I should have done the first time I heard those rumorsâcalled a buddy in Personnel and asked him. Personnel Office handles all transfers and discharges, and said they hadn’t heard a word about anyone getting out early. It’s possible, of course, but then almost anything is possible in the Navy.
Oh, yesâit’s official now about being 3rd Class (“glorified seaman”) so you can address my letters AK3 instead of AN.
It’s been awfully warm down here (below decks) lately. Guess Spring is here.
Any further ideas or thoughts on coming out to meet me? You can no doubt get last-minute plane reservations at almost any time. I was just thinking how long it’s been since I’ve seen you. I remember mother standing before the Cathedral in New Orleans, and eating toasted cheese sandwiches by the swimming pool at the motel. That was a very nice placeâtoo bad we didn’t get any pictures of it. And I remember both of you when you got off the planesâmom in a brown suit or dressâI can see it, but don’t recall which it was) and dad looking out that weird egg-shaped window.
Well, I think I’ll start cutting that box down to mail the binoculars. More tomorrow.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).